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Title: Authority in a Nairobi slum : chiefs and bureaucracy in Kibera
Author: Osborn, Michelle
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 3299
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This ethnography focuses on the contemporary existence of chiefs'in Kenya as situated in the longue duree of colonial and post-colonial history, tracing how sl)ifting Kenyan rule has contributed to chiefs' changing authority. Kenya's chiefs offer a unique lens for exploring urban govemance and the establishment and negotiation of local authority and legitimacy. Chiefs form the foundation of Kenya's Provincial Administration, which has remained the comerstone of the Kenya state and local govemance since its colonial inception. However, . chiefs' sovereignty has become increasingly fragmented over the last twenty years, particularly within urban areas, through the reintroduction of multi-party politics, the politicized mobilization of militant youth, and policy amendments related to chiefs' authority. This study is set in Kibera, which is one of the oldest and largest urban settlements in Nairobi, and where Kenya's flourishing political pluralism is particularly evident. Historical and political forces converge in Kibera to reveal changing and negotiated interactions between state and local actors. Chiefs struggle to negotiate authority and legitimacy; nevertheless they remain crucial to contemporary urban govemance at the local level. Providing a study of the Kenyan state in practice, this dissertation accounts for the creation of chiefs as well as their changing role within the evolution of the Provincial Administration. This study also enhances understanding of govemance within informal settlements through its examination of the history of local authority in Kibera, and in particular the way local authority has been contested and continues to change. The contemporary role of chiefs in Kibera is ultimately that of petty bureaucrats. How this role is conducted and its limitations are examined through case studies that range from the banality of bureaucracy to violence and civil unrest. As the first historically situated, ethnographic account of Kenya's urban chiefs, this study contributes to our understanding of governance in practice and reveals how the colonial imprint remains visible within the postcolonial state.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available